The Cost of Turnover and The Draw of Purpose

In Organization & Strengths, Purpose, Mission & Values

In a 2015 poll, Gallup found that fewer than 1 in 10 workers who changed jobs over the last three decades stayed in the same company to do so … and roughly 1 in 3 made that move in the past three years. With the estimated cost of turnover running at 150 percent of an employee’s annual salary (not to mention costs related to loss of knowledge and impact to culture and team morale), this is a costly problem for business leaders to address.

Employers are wise to pay attention to how they enable employees to learn, grow, and develop their careers within the organization in order to increase retention. But we believe one of the more important factors to address occurs well before a new employee arrives on the first day: attracting and hiring the right people.

Having the right expertise, experience, and job skills are a first step, but they alone won’t ensure job satisfaction and retention. Employers should first look to alignment of purpose when selecting talent for the long-term.

Consider the results of NetImpact’s 2012 Talent Report: 53 percent of workers (and 72 percent of students) said that having a job where they can make a social or environmental impact is “essential to my happiness” … and also more important than being wealthy or having a prestigious career. Workers who say they can make an impact while on the job report greater satisfaction than those who can’t by a 2:1 ratio, and those who can’t would take a pay cut to have such a job. Employees find it essential to work for a company that shares their values (67 percent), contributes to society (53 percent), and works to make the world a better place (51 percent) … and students – tomorrow’s workforce – increased these numbers by 10 points across the board.

Companies with a clearly defined and articulated purpose – identifying a need in the world and their unique ability to fill it – are better positioned to attract employees who find their values reflected in that purpose. When employees make a conscious choice to align themselves with a purpose they are more committed, more productive and more likely to stay. Having a clear and compelling purpose not only allows companies to capture the Heartspace of their customers, but of their employees as well.

Has your company discovered its purpose? Have you forged your story and are you shouting it from the mountaintops? Are you using your purpose as a visible filter for decision making (like REI announced last week)? Can the people who represent your brand, from hiring managers to janitors, tell the story of your purpose in their own words? Until you can answer yes to these questions, your company is missing the first step in addressing the problem of turnover: the draw of purpose.

This article may be reprinted when the copyright, link to article and author bio are included. ©2015 Storyforge, LLC.  Please contact us for inquiries.

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Haley Boehning is a principle at Storyforge. Building on 20+ years driving change for Fortune 500 clients, non-profits and start-ups, Haley has developed a pragmatic approach to change through storytelling, developing relevant, consistent and emotionally compelling messages and targeted communications strategies that help brand and culture triumph in times of great change.